Flour coats the empty shelves of area grocery stores as residents prepare to shelter in place. But while the demand for cashiers remains high, other locals businesses are scaling back and bracing for the worst as the streets clear.

On the heels of Monday’s announcement of the three-week “shelter in place” order from seven Bay Area counties’ health officials, those in Alameda County are observing the orders to stay indoors, work from home or cease business entirely if their services are not deemed essential by the order.

“Right now many businesses are mobilizing to respond to the shelter in place order and taking the proper precautions to protect the health of employees, customers and themselves,” said Livermore Chamber of Commerce (LVCC) CEO Dawn Argula. “What isn’t clear is the immediate, near- and long-term remedies to address economic impacts. Small- and medium-sized businesses are particularly affected.”

Argula went on to encourage business owners to evaluate their immediate financial needs and plan ahead.

“Beyond reserving cash and managing expenses, I advise that they communicate with lenders early to consider deferments on loan payments or moratoriums on pending financial actions to help them bridge this temporary period of time,” she said. “Additionally, LVCC is in regular consultation with the City of Livermore and working collaboratively with our business partners at Livermore Downtown Inc., Livermore Valley Winegrowers and Visit Tri-Valley to navigate this unprecedented challenge.”

Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve Van Dorn noted the order will place a significant impact on local businesses, many of which have already reduced their staff and will consider further reductions.

“The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce is doing all we can to communicate immediate financial options for the business community, like the (Small Business Administration) Disaster Loan Assistance Program that was recently announced,” Van Dorn said.

Local businesses in Livermore and Pleasanton’s downtown noted their sales have dropped off significantly.

“It’s very, very slow; not too many people coming,” said Sonia Cuadra, an employee of Donut Wheel, which is one of Livermore’s original downtown businesses and has seen the area through much change.

Barista Izzy Stafford at Panama Bay coffee shop echoed the sentiment.

“It’s pretty slow, but we’re still open. We have the window open and we’re not letting people come inside right now,” said Stafford, who noted there are no deliveries available.

Over in Pleasanton, Gay ’90s Pizza, another longtime staple of the community, is getting through the last of its supply, but not for expected reasons. Employee Julie Patterson said that while they are slow, due to a planned remodel, the business had already planned to close for two months. They will close completely soon after using the stock on-hand.

In addition, the City of Dublin published a notice to the community, indicating employers who experience a slowdown may apply for the UI Work Sharing Program, which allows for reduced hours as an alternative to layoffs.

“We are also urging our members and community to continue to support our local businesses whenever possible, while following Alameda County's safety guidelines,” Van Dorn added. “Unfortunately, I don't see this improving in the near term. Once the shelter-in-place order is lifted, our businesses and local community need to do all we can to support our local businesses so they can remain in business.”

To review the health order issued Tuesday, March 16, in its entirety, visit https://bit.ly/2WgkY2t.